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PH seeks Germany aid in Wirecard probe

A TOP Philippine financial investigator said Friday he has asked Berlin authorities for information on dozens of “persons of interest” in a Manila inquiry on the Wirecard accounting scandal.
German payments giant Wirecard filed for insolvency in June after admitting that the 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) missing from its accounts — which it initially claimed was deposited in two Philippine banks — did not exist.

The company’s former chief executive and several other top executives have since been arrested on fraud charges.

Mel Georgie Racela, executive director of the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council, said it and the justice department’s National Bureau of Investigation shared a list of “57 persons of interest” with German investigators.

It includes Jan Marsalek, Wirecard’s former chief operating officer who is also being sought by Berlin investigators, he said.

Another is German businessman Christopher Reinhard Bauer, who the Philippine government said died from natural causes in Manila in July.

“We also need evidence… that these foreigners are engaged in fraudulent activities,” Racela told an online news conference.

“Without a predicate offence we cannot proceed with our money laundering case against these foreigners,” he said.

Philippine investigators have not specified Bauer’s role in the accounting scandal, but the Financial Times has described him as a former Wirecard Asia Pacific executive.

The list also includes employees of the two Philippine banks where the Wirecard billions were supposedly deposited, as well as Filipino immigration officials suspected of fabricating Marsalek’s travel records to throw off investigators.

Racela did not name others in the list.

Investigators have established that the supposed Wirecard bank deposits “did not enter the Philippine financial system”, he added, echoing an earlier statement by the central bank.

They also looked into the activities of subsidiary Wirecard e-Money operating in the country but did not find any wrongdoing, Racela said.

– AFP